“This is not conservatism,” Ryan declared. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
He continued: “Not only are there many Muslims serving in our Armed Forces dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working every day to uphold and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism and freedom, democracy, individual rights.”
In a closed-door meeting with his fellow Republican members of the House prior to the press conference, Ryan reportedly said that Trump’s proposal would violate the First Amendment, which protects freedom of religion, and the 14th Amendment, which forbids denying due process to anyone “born or naturalized in the United States.”
The Hill reported that Ryan’s office had no comment on Trump’s proposal on Monday, but that his staff pointed to remarks the Speaker made on the House floor following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that any legislation to boost screening for Syrian refugees would not do so on the basis of any “religious test.”
Ryan indicated that despite his criticism, he would support Trump if he wins the nomination: “I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is, and I’m going to stand up for what I believe in as I do that,” he said.
Other Republican House members also expressed their disapproval of Trump’s remarks on Tuesday.
“We can’t put that kind of a test on anybody,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) told The Washington Post. “It’s not about anti-Muslim, it’s about anti-terrorism, period.”
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told The Post that Trump’s remarks were “not helpful,” but did not go so far as to say whether they would help ISIS recruit new members.
“I don’t think ISIS needs any help recruiting,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also commented on Trump’s proposal Tuesday, saying: “Trump’s just saying out loud what other Republicans merely suggest.”